Monday, February 9, 2009

Ease up a bit, chaps.

This is all your fault, damn you koala!

Traditionally, after every big bushfire, the good citizens of Victoria indulge in the time-honoured pastime of working out who to blame.

This year letter writers to the Melbourne Age have identified an additional player to the usual suspects of; the CFA/the DSE/the WHO/greenies/farmers/mountain grazing/not enough mountain grazing/rocks/God/atheists/trees/too many trees and Freemasons*.

Apparently, it’s all the fault of Kevin Rudd.

The reasoning goes something like this. The fires are the result of climate change, the Rudd Government isn’t moving fast enough on climate change for their liking; ergo the fires are all the fault of the Rudd Government.

The fact that bushfires have been a part of the Australian ecosystem for thousands of years, to the extent that some species of flora depend on them to germinate is also the fault of the Rudd Government.

Oh and private transport. Private transport is to blame as well**.

Chaps, let the families grieve and bury their loved ones first before indulging in the cheap finger-pointing.

*I’ve never understood some people’s obsession with Freemasons.

**I’m not making this up, unfortunately.


wari lasi said...

It should be noted that the whole climate change/global warming scenario is still unproven, particularly in regards to our (human beings) impact.

I can't wait to be shouted down for being a "climate change denialist". It's almost as unpopular as being a holocaust denier.

And your point is well made Ramon. Have some respect for those who've lost loved ones and play the blame game later. Wasn't Perseus heading out into the Victorian wilds for the weekend?

Ramon Insertnamehere said...

Wasn't Perseus heading out into the Victorian wilds for the weekend?

He was indeed, Wari.

I hope he reports in soon.

Anonymous said...

Perseus was heading into the desert. Not so many bushfires in the desert, surely?

Also, climate change -> bushfires can hardly be blamed on Kevin Rudd, when it's been building for the last few decades.

Also, since the bushfires were likely started by firebugs, I'd like to see the connection between climate change and firebugs.

wari lasi said...

Also, climate change -> bushfires can hardly be blamed on Kevin Rudd, when it's been building for the last few decades.

Wy not? I really like blaming Kruddy for stuff, whether he deserves it or not. The only thing I like about him is his deputy.

A mate (or rather an ex mate) of mine is in the NSW Fire Brigade and for years and years he put the blame for the severity of the fires on greenies who won't allow back burning or any controlled burning at all. He used to volunteer to be part of the crews that did it but he gave up because they (greenies) wound up with so much influence that they were able to force a stop to it.

And if they catch some cunt who deliberately lit one of these, they should string him up. I do so like a public lynching. Or better yet, burn the prick alive.

Mr E Discharge said...

And if they catch some cunt who deliberately lit one of these, they should string him up. I do so like a public lynching. Or better yet, burn the prick alive.

With respect,Wari. Those sorts of Judgements are best left for the appropiate authrority to decide.

Perseus will make his thoughts known shortly. Be patient.

patchouligirl said...

There will always be some psycho or simply a careless person with a cigarette that starts these fires, it probably doesn't matter if they catch the perpetrator of these ones, there'll be another idiot to step up and replace them. I hope everyone from TSFKA is okay. I am shocked at the death toll - and 750 homes! Its hard to believe.

I hope that when the response to this disaster is reviewed the firefighting resources are not found to have been inadequate as some of the victims have been suggesting.

Louche said...

I am blaming arsonists, and nature for doing the rest.

I don't know what firefighters are supposed to do to stop a giant fireball that can raze a town to the ground in mere minutes.

I only found out this morning residents had about 2 mins warning.

Ramon Insertnamehere said...

I don't think the emergency services were unprepared or under resourced Patchie.

Everybody knew that Saturday was going to be bad and the warnings were going out all day on Friday.

It's just impossible to deal with a firestorm of that size and intensity.

Jamie said...

I happen to think there might be something in the whole climate change thing. I also think it might have been nice if Bob Brown and the Greens had have waited a day or two - maybe after the death toll stopped rising - before trying to score cheap political points with smouldering bodies and ruined lives.

I think the green argument might be that arsonists may have started many of the blazes but climate change ensured they could not be stopped.

As for preparedness, Patchy, I don't see how anyone can adequately prepare for such savage and unprecedented fire weather in a state that has been baked hard by years of drought.

The south-westerly wind change that killed most people blew it at something like 50knots - that's up to 90km/h. In Kinglake, it blew the fire straight up the Great Dividing Range and right over the town, perched at the top of the range. It came threough so suddenly and so savagely that many were caught running, in their cvars or on foot, as the flames swept in. How do emergency services prepare for that beyond all the warnings they issued?

We had all been warned days out about the dreadful heat and the risk posed by the hot, northerly blast followed by the vicious south-westerly change - the same killer weather pattern that took so many lives during Ash wednesday in '83.

Meanwhile, I spent all night writing about the bushfires, and Brian Naylor and the ever-rising death toll. Dozens of people died within 20 minutes of my housse, including a place we had a nice counter lunch at two weeks back. It's our backyard. Most of the places that burned I have either lived in or worked in. I'm weeping for all the dead, the friends and families left to cope, and all those that lost everything. And let's not forget colleagues who, unlike me, have been working in the fire grounds. I've done my share of that shit in the past and it ain't easy. I can't imagine how tough the last few days have been on them.

Louche said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Louche said...

It's been somewhat pleasing to see the incredible response the community has made towards the victims. The Red Cross site was down this morning, presumably overwhelmed by donations.

Jamie, it has been hard enough covering the news from up here and not knowing the locations or anyone personally affected. What is it like in Melbourne city? Is it raining ash?

Mr E Discharge said...

Just to illustrate the speed involved, a friend lives 4k out of Horsham. She got up Saturday morning, went outside for a look around, saw no signs of danger, decided to take a shower then go and visit a girlfriend in town. By the time she had showered, she was cut off by a wall of flame. Fortunately
the CFA were nearby and her house was saved.

Jamie said...

It's weird, Louche. I'm 20 minutes from the nearest fire ground to my house. There's no smoke or ash in Melbourne although the south-west wind is blowing any smoke the other way. I get the sense there's a real emotional pall (pardon the pun) on people down here. I thin k we're all quite shell-shocked. Latest reports suggest the toll could rise to 230 - that's more than three times the 71 people that died in the Black Friday bushfires in 1939 and the 75 that died in Vic and SA in the Ash Wednesday fires.

We've never seen anything on this scale.

If you want to get a sense of what it's like being on the scene of something like this, take a look at this package from Oz snapper Stuart McEvoy, who was in Kinglake yesterday. I worked with him in my youth. The pics are typically brilliant but the audio commentary is something else. Listen to the edge in his voice.

We were regular visitors to Kinglake and St Andrews. I worked on the local paper out there years ago. These places are all but gone now.

Ramon Insertnamehere said...

Many of these places were about an hour's drive from Melbourne, Louche, so many Melbournians knew them pretty well.

It's a stange feeling to be told the town you used to visit, the pub you used to drink in isn't there anymore. It's gone - physically gone.

I hope the journos covering these stories get support after it's all over.

Louche said...

It's front page news on CNN and I think most Australians are wondering what they can do to help.

In the 94 NSW bushfires Sydney was surrounded, people were drowning in their backyard pools and ash was falling on Bondi Beach. Nothing like this though, in terms of loss of life.

Thanks for the link, I hadn't seen most of those photos. Hearing grown men choke up (incl. Brumby, Rudd etc) just shows how raw it all is.

All those male CFA volunteers heading home to find their families dead. Fuck. No words.

homesick said...

I can't imagine what is like to be so close to such a disaster. Cat 5 Hurricane is one thing but we had atleast 72 hours warning and only a few died.

My baby brother, sister in law and my niece are in Olinda and we can't reach them. Is it very near them (I'm frantically trying to look at Google maps to see how close they are to the fires).

PLease all TSFKA (Vic Branch)......... be safe.

Jamie said...

No probs at Olinda, Homesick.

homesick said...

Jamie thank you. Knowing my baby bro he'd be the type to stay and fight the bastard. We grew up in the South West burbs of Sydney in a National Park that was ablaze nearly every Summer.... our Dad was one for the "you and the kids go, I'll stay here and garden hose the roof" action.

The Dad DNA is strong in him.

patchouligirl said...

How do emergency services prepare for that beyond all the warnings they issued?

I totally agree that there probably wasn't any more that could have been done - it was an impossible situation. I did however hear a woman on the news comment that they couldn't get a tap or something to work - I can't remember the exact words she used but it sounded like it was the towns bushfire fighting equipment she was talking about, not her own garden tap. Equipment maintenance is certainly a part of preparation and you'ld be pretty pissed off if you had equipment failure in a life or death situation.

Perseus said...

I'm back from the desert. As Boogeyman pointed out, there are no fires in the desert.

And yes, many of the places burning are places us Melburnians go to for Sunday lunch and we're all familiar with the areas.

There was one bloke on radio I heard just an hour ago who, when trying to escape in a car, came across a 4 car pile-up smash. Those that could still run did so, but they had to leave a woman trapped in her car, still alive. They couldn't get her out, and there was no time to keep trying.

Hell on Earth.

Ramon Insertnamehere said...

Glad to hear you're OK, Pers.

Melba said...

I've shed tears several times today, it's just horrific and the idea that CFA members are fighting fires while their loved ones are perishing nearby is just heartbreaking.

What seems unbelievable about fires like this is the speed and ferocity, the radiant heat, the noise would be terrifying.

It's a terrible time.

Luckily me and mine are all ok, but as others have pointed out, it's so close and so familiar. We stayed at the Marysville guest house, a beautiful old place, recently and as children. Now, I suppose, gone. St Andrews is another place Melburnites visit, also Beechworth (so far ok I think, but still in danger) is a place lots of people visit.

And there's no smell of smoke in the air at the moment in the city, no ash, no eerie red sky, all of which were apparent in '83.

I feel very helpless, apparently they are ok for clothes but need toilet paper and other toiletries, underpants, baby food and bottles, can openers.

patchouligirl said...

Maybe Rudd should rethink where that 42 billion is going to go?

Melba said...

I agree. I would feel bad taking the easy money and if it comes to pass, and if it's not too distant in the future, ie before we have bushfire fatigue and we are overly self-absorbed again and have "moved on" to the next preoccupation, I like to think I would donate what we get anyway.

Louche said...

I think (hope)the govt has separate budgets put aside for natural disasters.

In any case, as at 6:30pm tonight, the Red Cross had received $7.9 million from over 45,500 donations. Awesome effort.

patchouligirl said...

Every brick, road and tree should be replaced, better than it was before. People who weren't insured should have their homes replaced. Whatever interrim housing is required should be provided. Fire prevention/fighting resources should be upgraded. Its the least we can do as we can't bring the dead back. Even Malcom Turnbull wont oppose this as he said 'whatever it takes'.

I also feel for all the animals that perish and lose their homes and don't get a mention. I just can't process the idea of burning alive, people or animals, its too horrific.

WitchOne said...

We had a fire a suburb away as well on Saturday, I was watching the trucks go by but with the hormone treatment for egg donation melting my brain I didn't compute it was another freakin' FIRE!

It's nuts out there at the moment, not only are these places we Melbournians go to for Sunday lunch, weekends away etc but loads of us have friends living there. I may now have to reorganise a Hens day out in the winery area and a friends surprise 40th in Gippsland may be off.

I know that sounds flippant, it's not meant to, just goes to show how close it really is I guess. I don't like calling my friends every 5 minutes to make sure they're safe! That's supposed to be assumed!

Mr E Discharge said...

I'm overwhelmed. Been on the verge of tears all day. Spent Sunday visiting friends and former neighbours in Olinda, the fear was palpible. I had plans to go up to Marysville this week to see clients and friends. I find it hard to believe that it's no longer there.Spent the day on the phone trying find out if friends are ok. Nightmare.

Aesophia said...

I think the government will have a 'separate budget' for natural disasters like my friend's mum was supposed to have budgeted for getting breast cancer -the government refuses to subsidise her medical bills because she didn't.

I'm sorry, I know I'm extremely cynical about this. I'm turning my sadness, devastation and helplessness into anger and cynicism.

WitchOne said...

As long as they stick to their guns - "whatever it takes"? Damn right.

As for reviewing the guidelines regarding "fight or flight", leave them be, some people will stay regardless, at least give them the choice. No one could have predicted the severity in time and so no one had the right to remove people from their homes.

patchouligirl said...

We've made it to the top 10 worst bushfire list by death toll although I worry about the mind of whoever is updating it so efficiently.

The page does offer perspective. As a comparison, the Burma cyclone last year took 146 000 lives and the only compensation they got was to be left to sit around for weeks and die of cholera afterwards as their govt refused aid. Topping all the lists were some of the Chinese floods that killed millions. The Pakistani earthquakes killed 79 000. This disaster has made me more conscious of what it must be like in those countries when these things happen on a far more massive scale.

Ramon Insertnamehere said...

Fires approaching Healesville.

That's getting a bit fucking close.

Jamie said...

Patchy, the water pressure problem you are taliing about probably did relate to that woman's tap - specifically, her garden hose. It puts a huge drag on the water mains when every bastard in town is running their hoses into the gutters to help defend against ember attack.

Meanwhile, more than 100 people have died within half an hour of my place, in tiny little towns like St Andrews and Strathewen where there was no hope of escape. And then there's all those people at Kinglake that died where they stod, or huddled, trying to escape the flames. I spent hours at work last night updating the death toll. I just feel sick.

squib said...

And just when you think you've seen it all... along comes Pastor Danny Nalliah

WitchOne said...


I've done all I can so far I think. Donated cash, offered to take in animals. What else??

Louche said...

Can you give blood Witchy? I would if I wasn't up the duff again.

WitchOne said...

Congrats to you Louche!! Awesome news!

Can't give blood, we've just canceled my egg donation cycle and I need to let the hormones settle first. By the time that happens I'll be off and running again to get rid of these bloody annoying eggs I have hanging around!

Puss In Boots said...

Wow. I've only just heard about all of this. I hope all Victorian TSFKAers are ok, and of course I'm sad for those families who suffered losses. I feel particularly sorry for the animals though. I just saw a photo of badly burned koala. Not pretty. Poor little thing.

It doesn't surprise me people are blaming Kevin Rudd. He's not working miracles as fast as people would like. After all, he's been in for over a year now, so why haven't we achieved world peace yet?

patchouligirl said...

Oh good for you Louche! How far along are you?

Perseus said...

I've been mobile almost constantly for the last week and as such, 90% of my bushfire media coverage has come from ABC Radio. Credit where credit is due, I think they are doing a great job. Even Elle McFeast is impressing me.

Special note to some journo I'd never heard of - Michael Stirling. Ramon / Jamie - do you know this bloke? Tell him some random stranger on the internet says 'thanks and well done'.

Perseus said...

Oh, and hooray for Louche!
May you have a healthy Louchette or Loucheo... or both! Twins are cool.

patchouligirl said...

Yes twins are the new black.

Ramon Insertnamehere said...

The Victorian Blood Bank is overflowing with...err...blood.

Given blood has a limited shelf life, they're telling people not to donate now but to register so they can be called upon later, as required.

squib said...

Witchone Pastor Danny Nalliah said the fires are God's wrath due to Victoria passing the abortion legislation

I don't think I'm allowed to donate blood because I was in the UK during the mad cow thing

The coverage on the commercial channels is appalling

Melba said...

I haven't watched one second of commercial coverage knowing how sensationalised and unbearably mawkish it would be. In fact, I haven't watched any live coverage. I just can't bear it.

Reading it all is hard enough.

And Danny Nalliah is an utter dickhead and WitchOne, you could add making him go away to your list of things to do.

WitchOne said...

I haven't heard of the good Reverend anywhere but here.

Am I flawed or I am floored??!!

Ramon Insertnamehere said...

I haven't heard of the good Reverend anywhere but here

That's because we're a pack of obsessive weirdos, Witchie.

Melba said...

Oh he's been around, WitchOne. Fomenting dissent and general badness between certain groups. Without looking it up, I can't remember exactly, but racial stuff? And religious stuff of course.

He's a whacker.

Is he connected with Costello's church?